If you have feeder fish around, can you feed them to your bearded dragon?
Couldn’t fish be a great way to supplement their protein needs?
While fish may be some of the healthiest proteins for us, we can’t assume the same is true for bearded dragons.
All pet owners want the best for their pets, but you need to be careful about what you feed them when it comes to a diet.
We’re here to help as we dig into feeder fish and how they interact with beardies.
Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
Can Bearded Dragons Eat Feeder Fish?
DO NOT feed your bearded dragon any fish, canned, cooked, or live. Live fish may contain parasites and bacteria, which could make your beardie very sick. If fed too often, any fish may result in a vitamin B1 and B3 deficiency.
Do Bearded Dragons Eat Fish In The Wild?
Though beardies are opportunistic eaters and omnivorous, the truth is, as desert lizards, they are unlikely to encounter any fish to eat in their natural habitat.
While they may occasionally eat fish, fish are not a regular part of their diets if they come across them.
Researchers have not been able to determine if there are any benefits to captive bearded dragons eating fish.
However, there are noted potential downsides, which is why you should never feed your bearded dragon fish.
Why Not Fish?
Besides not being part of their natural diet in the wild, there are several risks for your bearded dragon if they eat fish.
Raw and live fish have parasites and harmful bacteria in their systems.
There is no way to control or eliminate these pathogens, which could make your bearded dragon very sick.
Even if you stick with canned or cooked fish, too much could lead to a vitamin B3 deficiency since fish have thiaminase in their systems.
You may have seen feeder fish at the pet store.
These are live fish sold to pet owners of lizards or snakes, which eat fish as a regular part of their diets.
If you own a water or Nile monitor lizard, feeder fish are a great option for feeding them.
However, a bearded dragon is not one of these lizards, and they should not eat a feeder fish even as an occasional treat.
Avoid canned or raw tuna, goldfish, minnows, salmon, and tilapia.
Also, avoid crustaceans, including crab, shrimp, or prawns.
Stick with foods you know are safe for your bearded dragon.
Are There Any Meats Safe For My Bearded Dragon?
Aside from the very occasional pinky mouse without fur once or twice a month, no animal meat is safe for your bearded dragon to eat.
All meats which humans consume regularly, raw or cooked, are higher in phosphorous than calcium.
Any food with a high ratio of phosphorous to calcium will interfere with a bearded dragon’s calcium absorption, resulting in metabolic bone disease.
When a bearded dragon has MBD, its bones begin to erode, creating holes at the microscopic level and causing paralysis and pain.
Any seasoned or smoked meats, like ham, bacon, or sausage, will present further problems, as the additives could result in health concerns.
Meat-based dog or cat food is also not safe for your bearded dragon.
You should not be feeding your pet food, which is more suitable for other pets.
Live feeder insects are the best possible protein option for your bearded dragon.
While they are not as convenient as pre-packaged human foods, these are what a bearded dragon regularly eats in the wild.
If you balance insects like crickets, mealworms, dubia roaches, and superworms with vegetables and fruits, you ensure your pet’s longevity, health, and happiness.
Do not feed your bearded dragon wild-caught insects like flies, snails, or slugs.
Wild-caught insects are more likely to contract pesticides and parasites, which could make your bearded dragon very sick.
Stick to feeder insects like crickets bought at pet stores.
What About Eggs?
Eggs cooked without seasonings, dairy, or extra fat are ok on a once-a-week basis for adults.
While they are a good source of protein and necessary vitamins, the high-fat content could cause health issues like fatty liver disease if you feed your beardie too many.
Baby beardies have higher protein needs and can eat eggs more often than adults.
Make sure you do not feed your bearded dragon raw eggs.
Eggshells, however, make a great calcium supplement.
Make sure you boil them to sanitize them, then grind them to a fine powder to prevent digestive impaction.
What Are Foods Bearded Dragons Should Avoid?
Bearded dragons cannot digest chocolate.
Chocolate contains theobromine, which is poisonous to many pets, including cats and dogs.
In severe cases, inappropriate chocolate consumption by a pet has resulted in heart failure and death.
They cannot digest dairy products.
Dairy products include milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and sour cream.
Since they are not mammals and do not produce milk, bearded dragons also do not have the enzymes in their digestive systems to process foods made from milk.
They also do not usually encounter or drink milk in the wild.
They also cannot digest bread or other baked goods.
While not toxic or deadly if accidentally consumed, bread, muffins, and cakes do not make good treats or dietary staples for a beardie.
Bread may expand in a bearded dragon’s stomach, resulting in digestive issues.
High-fat and high-salt human foods like french fries and potato chips are also off the table. Bearded dragons do not usually eat starchy foods, even in the wild.
This also eliminates human cereals made from starchy substances like wheat, oats, and corn.
You should also avoid mushrooms, as depending on the variety, they may be toxic for your pet.
While some baby food is safe for bearded dragons, others should be avoided, especially meat-based varieties.
Stick to fruit and vegetable purees with no additives as an occasional treat.
You may have heard a bearded dragon’s vegetable and fruit meals referred to as “salads.”
While this is a cute way to talk about your pet’s greens, a salad for a bearded dragon should not have salad dressing on it.
Salad dressings might contain ingredients already mentioned as unsafe, like dairy, seasonings, and oil.
A simple bowl of appropriate fruits and veggies misted with water makes a perfect and healthy salad for a bearded dragon.
We hope we have helped you answer the question of whether bearded dragons can eat feeder fish.
The simple answer is no; beardies should not be eating any fish.
It is not a part of their natural food in the wild and will potentially cause diseases and vitamin deficiencies.
Bearded dragons also cannot eat the animal meats which humans enjoy.
Sticking with staple veggies, occasional fruits, and bearded dragon feeder insects is the best way to keep your pet happy and healthy.